When the Breeders released their first album, “Pod,” in 1990, the project was essentially a side project for then Pixies bassist Kim Deal and Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly. But now that the Pixies have disbanded and Donelly has moved on to her own group, Belly, The Breeders have evolved into a full-time band for Deal. The group, whose revamped line-up includes drummer Jim Mcpherson, Kelley Deal (Kim’s sister) on guitar and original member Josephine Wiggs (formerly of Perfect Disaster) on bass, has just put out its second full-length album, “Last Splash”
Since Josephine lives in England, Jim still works in the construction business and Kelley is “still learning”, Kim is responsible for pretty much all of the songwriting within the band now. Kim says that she and Tanya had collaborated a lot on the first album, as they were both between projects at the time. But Kim says that even though she was a major part of the band in the beginning, Tanya had no problem with The Breeders going on without her.
Kim is quick to change the subject when her former bands come up, saying to just “buy a Melody Maker.” But she did explain that Kelley was flown to Boston to audition as drummer for the bands, but that ended up not working out.
With Tanya out of the Breeders, Kim didn’t have to look far to find a new lead guitarist. But bringing in Kelley as a replacement was no easy adjustment, since at the time she didn’t even know how to play the guitar.
“I asked her to play the drums, but she said no, she wants to be the fucking lead guitarist!,” says Kim. “And I’m like ‘Well Kelley, you can’t fucking play, can you?’ and she goes ‘Well, Kim, I still want to.'”
Kim speaks highly of her sister as a musician, saying that she has good melody and musical ideas, and added that Kelley is learning quickly. But when the band plays out, there is still the concern of whether or not Kelley will be able to pull it off.
“It’s still scary. Josephine is like ‘isn’t it wonderful? That it’s so exciting. It’s like is she or is she not going to be able to do it?,” says Kim, trying to imitate Josephine’s voice with a fake British accent. “But it’s getting old, man, I want her just to learn it and play.”
“Last Splash” was recorded over a three month period in San Francisco. The group wanted a raw, live sound, with bleed-through between the tracks, though when they finished the initial recording they didn’t like the drums sounds and had to re-do those parts.
For the first video off the album, “Cannonball,” the group enlisted Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon to direct. Deal says that she didn’t want to do any high-concept clips like the “Hellbound” video and liked the sense of humor Gordon displayed on her work on the Sonic Youth “Goo” home video.
“There’s a couple on there that were so funny, some of the videos were so chintzy and cheaply made but they were so hilarious,” says Kim. “Like there’s this one video where’ shes like in an apartment and the doorbell rings and her friend comes in and she goes ‘hi, come on it,” and then says “hey, listen to this great new album” and she put there’s album on the turntable, to this song that the video if for. she lays the needle down on the turntable and they dance to it. And that’s the video.”
For their last venture into video making (“Safari”), the Breeders copied the set from an old Black Sabbath video. ‘There was a different video I was looking for actually,” says Kim, describing an old Who video she had originally wanted to emulate. “There was a cool set that I’d seen the who use, black and white, really stark. So I rented out this “MTV Closet Classics” videos and I couldn’t find that but I saw this Black Sabbath one which was excellend”
With the release of “Last Splash,” the group is going out on their second full-scale tour to promote it. While the Breeders have so far received a good deal of acclaim in this country, they are one of those bands that tends to get even more attention in Europe. This is nothing new to Kim, as the Pixies were seen as pop stars overseas back when they were still underground here in the State.
“I think they’re in a phase where all American rock bands sound pretty good right now,” says Kim as she tries to explain that phenomenon. “God, do you remember that phase in the ’80s with the big hair English bands? Where if you spoke with an English accent you were on MTV right away? We had to endure that so they can endure this American rock!”
This is just one of the many peculiarities in the music business that Kim has observed through her experiences with the Breeders and the Pixies.
“It’s fascinating,” she says. “Just little things, like even journalism and stuff like that, stuff like pull quotes, why is there only one person on the cover instead of the band because one person looks better, there’s more room for a logo, blah, blah, blah. It’s so interesting, it’s neat. It’s almost like ‘Larry Sanders Show’ It’s just the little stupid finalities of what it looks like backstage, in the hallway, and the way he talks to his on-stage guy when they’re not in front of the camera.”